Why Pringles has ditched the can for its first bagged snack in more than 15 years

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Pringles Mingles are corn puffs described by the Kellanova-owned brand​​ as ‘crispy on the outside and light and airy in the middle for a melt-in-your-mouth experience’. Boasting a bowtie-style shape inspired by Mr P’s signature look, the snack comes in three flavors: Cheddar & Sour Cream, Sharp White Cheddar & Ranch and Dill Pickle & Ranch.

Pringles Mingles 1

While innovation is at the heart of Kellanova – and therefore presumably as familiar as a well-worn path – as any stakeholder in the snacking sector will attest to, producing a new SKU is a very complex and involved process.

Bakery&Snacks caught up with Mauricio Jenkins, senior director, Salty Snacking Brand Marketing for Kellanova, at the recent Sweets & Snacks – in its new location in Indianapolis – to find out more.

“Our iconic Pringles can is part of our identity – and it’s not going anywhere – but we’re always looking for new ways to innovate and satisfy our fans’ latest cravings,” said Jenkins.

Pringles Mingls Jenkins-Mauricio

Mauricio Jenkins

“The puffy, airy snack not only gives fans a new way to experience Pringles, but it’s easy-to-share packaging creates a new way to enjoy their favorite snack with friends and family, whether munching at home for movie night, at a party or on-the-go.

“It’s our first innovation outside of the can in more than 15 years, so it’s a big deal.

Explaining the dramatic move out-of-the-can, Jenkins told us, “We are always looking at how can we identify unmet needs and occasions that we’re not able to deliver with our core proposition. Through doing that work, we saw there was an opportunity around shareability and evening snacking for the brand and were able to develop Pringles Mingles in answer.”

He describes the new SKU as ‘a light, airy, crispy snack’ that emulates ‘the fun element of Pringles’ – the bow tie.

“Even though it’s in the puffed segment – which is a very well-developed category – we were able to develop a unique food that is crispy on the outside, but light and airy on the inside, which gives you a very nice experience when you’re eating it.”

Much thought, too, was also put into the launch flavors.

“That’s where the Mingles name comes from,” said Jenkins.

“It’s about mingling flavors, but also about mingling people; sharing with others. So, there’s a lot of fun and excitement around the proposition, which is very much in line with the brand.”

Getting it just right

Gill and Mingles Pringles

It took the wizards at Kellanova three years to develop the new product.

“This type of thing takes a little bit longer because we want to do it right. We want to make sure that we develop the right type of food, from both the commercial and technical position,” said Jenkins.

Development started “in the middle of the pandemic, so, of course there were some disruptions and we had to refocus of some of the resources”, but Kellanova NPD typically takes “roughly two to three years”.

I asked Jenkins if the Mingles bow tie shape was as mathematically-driven as Pringle’s iconic hyperbolic paraboloid format.

Pringles dlerick

Pic: GettyImages/dlerick

The intersecting curves of Pringle’s unique geometry was designed for both visual appeal (much like the appeal of symmetrical human features) and structural integrity (avoiding stress lines, preventing natural crack propagation and contributing to that unique crunch).

“No, it doesn’t have the same technical origin, but as we were developing the proposition, we wanted some of those elements to harken back to their upbringing. We wanted to make sure we had a consistent shape that was playful. Our number one priority was making sure the product experience, the taste experience, was the right one for people to really want to enjoy this as a regular snack.”

Pringles Mingles will be rolling out in grocery retail across the US and Canada in October. 

“It’s going to be a big launch,” which comes with all the marketing bells and whistle, said Jenkins.

“This is going to be one of our top priorities in terms of communication, so plans include video support – we’re talking about TV, connected TV, online video and a full social digital (social media). Because of the target, we want to play with influencers and really make sure that we are very present in that space.

Gill and Pringles

“And then, the most important aspect – being present instore with a big display push.”

The rest of the world, sadly, will have to wait, but Jenkins said to “watch this space”.

Drilling down into the Pringles brand,​​ Jenkins told me it’s a long story, but in a nutshell:

“Pringles was developed by Proctor and Gamble in Cincinnati in 1968 – then marketed as Pringles’ Newfangled Potato Chips,” said Venezuelan-born Jenkins, who joined Kellanova in 2013 after working for Proctor & Gamble on the Pringles brand. The Pringles brand was bought by Kellogg’s in 2012 for $2.65bn.

The snack was developed to capitalize on “the key opportunities they saw in the salty segment that with their capabilities, they could solve. It was unique and took the world by storm. By the 1990s, it was present in more than 130 countries and right now, is the biggest brand for Kellanova.”

There’s a space for all

Kellanova stand 2

Despite leaning into the BFY trend – the extruded corn snack is baked, not fried – that thinking wasn’t the leading criteria behind the NPD. In fact, Jenkins told Bakery&Snacks that, surprisingly, the salty snacks sector remains relatively immune to the impact of the all-pervading health trend.

“One of the things that we have seen – which is very interesting – is that the salty category is so massive and continues to grow, so there’s a space for all the different needs,” he said.

“There are needs for better-for-you snack, but there are also needs for what we call the flavor enjoyment type of snacks. And both are growing pretty much at the same rate.

“There’s not necessarily a big impact as people still have a different role for snacks to play in their lives. It’s more of a dynamic that ‘I’m going to replace this for something else’. Indulgence is still very much there and obviously the number one driver is taste.”

Pop-Tarts

Regarding flavor, I asked Jenkins what was driving the current trend towards supercharged flavors​​ like firey lime, hot honey mustard, mango habanero and spicy margarita.

“I think there’s a couple dynamics with that. In the US, I would say it’s a cultural dynamic: the influence of Mexican habits and types of foods are having an impact.

Kelloggs Treats

“But I think it’s also the younger generations who are looking for variety and are looking for those type of bolder experiences. That’s why we’re seeing that segment growing and why we’re playing in that segment. We’re going to be coming up with innovation later around that bolder space,” he also hinted. Watch this space.

Changing track to talk about packaging, Jenkins said Pringles has a very ‘aggressive agenda’ around the use of recycled paper for its tubes.​

“I’m sure you’re familiar with the work we’re doing in Europe. Our plan is to really understand how it’s performing and how we’re able to execute that from a technical standpoint in a consistent way. The plan then is to understand what that could look like for the rest of the world.”

NutriGrain

Beyond the new proposition, the impressive Kellanova stand at Sweets & Snacks was showcasing its iconic Pringles [watch this space for new innovations over the next year]; Pop-Tarts Crunchy Poppers [the first-ever crunchy, bite-sized snack from Pop-Tarts, featuring the same tasty fillings, frostings and sprinkles]; Rice Krispies Treats Chocolatey Peanut Butter [with a ooey-gooey twist]; and Nutrigrain Power-Fulls [the first line innovation for the brand in two years that packs in protein, 8g of whole grains and balanced energy].

Pop-Tarts Crunchy Poppers are rolling out in US grocery retailers nationwide for an RRP of $3.99 (5ct) and $6.59 (10ct). Available in the convenience channel from December 2024 for an RRP of $2.79

Rice Krispies Treats Chocolatey Peanut Butter is also hitting the snack aisles at retailers nationwide for an RRP of $4.49 (7ct) and $8.42 (14ct), along with single serve in December for an RRP of $2.29.

Nutri-Grain Power-Fulls come in four snack pouches per box for an RRP of $3.99. Available in in 2.2oz immediate consumption pack in December for an RRP of $2.79.

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